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LISTEN TO THE RADIO

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by Jakob Brossmann and David Paede

grade: 7.5

Listen to the Radio – produced by NIkolaus Geyrhalter, directed by Jakob Brossmann and David Paede, and focusing on the radio station Ö1 – seems to us more than an extremely nationalistic documentary, it is actually a true declaration of love to Austria and to a reality that is so important to it, as one of the few manifestations that attempt to overcome the not easy political and economic moment.

From sunrise to sunset

How important can radio be in one person’s life and – more generally – in the life of an entire nation? Certainly a great importance has had – and still has – the successful radio station Ö1, Austria’s first radio station, which was founded as an independent entity and later financed by the ORF, the state television. The documentary Listen to the Radio (original title: Gehört, gesehen – Ein Radiofilm), directed by Jakob Brossmann and David Paede, and produced by the renowned documentary filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter, shows us close up what it is all about.

At night, just before dawn, Austria still seems to be sleeping. A large radio antenna keeps watch, still in darkness, over the city of Vienna. Inside the radio station Ö1, the broadcast Guten Morgen, Österreich! (Good morning, Austria!) is going to begin. From this moment on, all daily activities will officially start.

Yet, with the current crisis in communication, the situation is not easy even for such an important entity with such a large following. Hence, meetings upon meetings begin, in order to find an acceptable solution to the aforementioned problems. In the meantime, normal activities continue uninterruptedly, including interviews with celebrities, live recordings of concerts at the Opera House and studio readings by actors and singers.

In Listen to the Radio , Brossmann and Paede opted, therefore, for a mainly contemplative approach (the school of Geyrhalter, in this regard, makes itself felt more present than ever), making their camera as invisible as possible, as a silent spectator of entire days of work marked by strong emotions and moments of great pathos. An approach, this one, which, at the end of the film, seems to us to be as fair as possible and which, simply in order to help the spectator orient himself and to make him understand, in fact, the importance of what is being shown, simply uses short captions only at the opening and closing of the documentary.

Listen to the Radio, then, seems to us more than an extremely nationalist film, as a true declaration of love to Austria and to a reality that is so important to it, as one of the few manifestations attempting to overcome the not easy political and economic moment. Particularly noteworthy, in this regard, are the frequent shots of the radio antenna in the foreground as in the opening, with, in the background, evocative views of Vienna from above. It’ s at moments like these that one almost has the impression that the antenna itself has the function of benevolently watching over its beloved city, conveying to the audience a reassuring sense of tranquillity.

Listen to the Radio, then, is a welcome and successful journey into a reality that few people know about. A reality that can usually only be heard, but here, at last, can also be seen up close. Just as Richard Curtis had told us in 2009 with his successful I love Radio Rock.

And so, with an elliptical ending, we see, at the end of a busy working day, the city of Vienna fall asleep again. Watching over her, still the antenna of Ö1, ready to accompany her, just a few hours later, into a new, frenetic day.

Original title: Gehört, gesehen – Ein Radiofilm
Directed by: Jakob Brossmann, David Paede
Country/year: Austria / 2019
Running time: 90’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Jakob Brossmann, David Paede
Cinematography: Jakob Brossmann, David Paede, Barbara Sas
Produced by: Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion GmbH

Info: the page of Listen to the Radio on the website of the NIkolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion